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Diseases and conditions
Flu
The Flu I.Q. widget is an interactive quiz to test your flu knowledge.

Flu season is here in full force.Get protected now. It's not too late to get vaccinated!

Getting vaccinated each year is the best way to protect yourself and your family from seasonal flu. Everyone six months of age and older should get vaccinated against seasonal influenza (flu).


Seasonal influenza (flu)

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Flu symptoms

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or having chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children.

Complications of seasonal flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

How flu spreads

Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk and droplets are breathed into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults can infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms start and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems, can infect others for an even longer time.

Preventing flu

Vaccination

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. All people 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine. The vaccine is available now in our community.

Some children under 9 years old require 2 doses of influenza vaccine separated by at least 4 weeks to develop an adequate immune response. A chart to help decide if a child younger than 9 years of age needs 1 or 2 doses of flu vaccine can be found here (PDF).

It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot and protections lasts about a year.

There are two ways to get vaccine

  • Flu shot
    • Injection that contains dead (inactivated) influenza virus, given by injection into the muscle.
    • Some inactivated influenza vaccine contains a preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal-free influenza vaccine is available. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
    • A "high-dose" inactivated influenza vaccine is available for people 65 years of age and older.
    • Inactivated flu vaccine information sheet (PDF)
  • Nasal spray
    • A live weakened virus vaccine that is sprayed into the nose. This vaccine is approved for healthy people 2 - 49 years old and those who are not pregnant.
    • Adults and older children need one dose of influenza vaccine each year. Some children younger than 9 years of age need two doses to be protected. Ask your healthcare provder.
    • Live flu vaccine information sheet (PDF)

Where to get vaccines

Seasonal influenza vaccine can be provided by your healthcare provider or a local pharmacy. Call for details on dates, times and costs.

Businesses wishing to have seasonal flu shots provided onsite to staff can call:

  • Adventist Health: (503) 251-6818
  • Get A flu shot.com: (877) 358-7478
  • Maxim Health Systems: (866) 211-0001

Stop germs!

Remember to follow everyday practices (and teach them to your family members) that prevent the spread of germs causing seasonal flu and other illnesses.

  • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Always cover coughs and sneezes with inside of elbow or tissue.
  • Stay home when sick.

Which cases of influenza need to be reported to public health?

  • Laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths in persons of all ages.
  • Pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed influenza admitted to an intensive care unit.
  • Suspected and laboratory-confirmed infections due to a novel influenza virus, including avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. (Note that 2009 H1N1 is no longer a novel virus).
  • Outbreaks of influenza-like illness or laboratory-confirmed influenza in an institutional setting (e.g., long-term care facility).

Can I send specimens to WA Public Health Laboratories for testing?

Yes, if they fall into one of the categories below, but all specimens for submission must be approved through Clark County Public Health prior to submission. Call (360) 397-8182 to get permission for submission.

WAPHL will perform influenza testing and subtyping on specimens from:

  1. Deceased patients suspected to have influenza.
  2. Patients suspected to be infected with a novel strain, including H5N1 influenza.
  3. Patients associated with outbreaks.

WAPHL will perform oseltamivir resistance testing for clinical care purposes on specimens from:

  1. Patients who develop laboratory-confirmed influenza while taking antiviral prophylaxis.
  2. Severely immunocompromised patients with prolonged excretion of influenza virus despite antiviral treatment.
  3. Patients in intensive care units with prolonged excretion of influenza virus despite antiviral treatment.

How do I submit specimens to WA Public Health Laboratories for testing?  After receiving approval from Clark County Public Health Communicable Disease Unit for submission, then follow the directions outlined on the WA Department of Health Information page (PDF).

 

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